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Thread: spoke vs cast wheels

  1. #1

    spoke vs cast wheels

    Hello All,
    New to GS, have a 2007 1200 GT since new that I am keeping. Likely ordering 2014 GS on Saturday. I am back and forth on spoke vs cast. I understand unsprung weight issues, strength of spoke vs cast, cleaning issues etc. Am interested to hear experience of GS riders re: on road performance of spoke vs cast. Do riders notice slower turn in and overall road performance decrease of spoke vs cast? I am interested to explore capabilities of GS as my comfort level grows with the bike and may possibly buy spokes to start and a second set of wheels with cast rims later. Prefer the look of the bike with spokes. Thank you! CS

  2. #2
    Fortis Fortuna Adiuvat Omega Man's Avatar
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    Welcome to the forum! I can't help you on the specifics that you ask, just kinda partial to spokes....or the solids on one of those HD Fatboys
    OM
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  3. #3
    Quote Originally Posted by cssmith View Post
    Do riders notice slower turn in and overall road performance decrease of spoke vs cast?
    Any potential difference in handling is more than offset by tire selection. I had cast on my '05 GS. I have spoke on my '13 GS. The cast are much easier to clean. The spoke look better to my eye. I do not push the bike enough off road for the extra strength of spoke wheels to be a factor. I worry more about my bones than my wheels

  4. #4
    A looooong time ago I bought a brand new Kawasaki Z1. Like almost all bikes at the time it had spoke wheels. I purchased a set Lester cast wheels which were one of the first replacement cast wheels commercially available. The difference was like night and day. There was NO flex at all in the cast wheels and it felt like you were on rails going around a turn. Of course that was then and this is now. What I have noticed is that the spoked wheels are the biggest PITA wheel I have ever changed a tire on, especially popping the bead. I would agree with marchyman tire choice probably makes the question real close to being mute; however, the question should be same tires, spoke versus cast. If I had someone nearby that would trade me even on my spokes for cast, I'd trade in a heart beat.
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  5. #5
    Registered User Paladinwest's Avatar
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    I think that you will find that the turn in capability has much more to do with the nut holding the handlebars than it has to do with spoke or cast wheels. The GS (spoke or cast wheels) is a very capable "sport" bike in the hands of a reasonably skilled rider. I am sure that someone can calculate that the slightly lighter cast wheels require 37.427258 decigrams less effort to produce a lean angle of 43.63587 degrees, but in the real world.......
    I ride with guys on cast wheeled GS's that won't turn in as fast as my fully fuelled, spoke wheeled GSA but I also know that every time I ride my forged wheel, race prepped HP2 Sport after spending a lot of time on the GSA I need to recalibrate my mind to deal with the much quicker turn in. How much of this is the extra light forged wheels and how much is the geometry, fat sticky tires and the 100+ pound weight differential I don't know.
    I believe that you will find that different tires make more difference than different wheels.
    I also ride with guys on cast wheeled GS who have bent those wheels on reasonably sedate logging road rides (they don't remember hitting anything "big"). On the same ride one of the VStrom's got a hole through the engine cases (a $3000+ hole) from a thrown rock so maybe their definition of "big" is different than mine.
    I would say get the wheels you like the looks of best and when they are limiting your riding performance you can look at the aftermarket for the next performance increment.
    2014 R1200GSA 38,000, 2008 HP2 Sport 11,000, 2008 R1200GSA 100,000 (Sold), 1990 R100GSPD 102,000, 1986 K100RS 154,000

  6. #6
    Unfunded content provider tommcgee's Avatar
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    Don't they have a GS model with cast wheels now? Thought I saw a picture recently.

    For the really knarly stuff, I'd want spokes, but cast has been fine for me on dirt, gravel, fire roads and the like. Wouldn't take it on single track, but I don't do single track anyway.
    Salty Fog Rally 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014 And DRAT! Missed the last one in 2015!

    -Tom (KA1TOX)

  7. #7
    Thank you for the welcome and the input. I agree that the "nut" controlling the handle bars is likely major factor to performance issues. I am heading out the door to order 2014 R 1200 GS with most of the options including spokes. I am sure to curse them when time to clean up, but looking forward to taking some training off road and stretching my legs with different terrain options vs my GT. If I end up feeling a performance hit when on pavement I will buy a second set of wheels/tires including the cast rims. Thanks again!

  8. #8

    gs wheels

    Quote Originally Posted by cssmith View Post
    Hello All,
    New to GS, have a 2007 1200 GT since new that I am keeping. Likely ordering 2014 GS on Saturday. I am back and forth on spoke vs cast. I understand unsprung weight issues, strength of spoke vs cast, cleaning issues etc. Am interested to hear experience of GS riders re: on road performance of spoke vs cast. Do riders notice slower turn in and overall road performance decrease of spoke vs cast? I am interested to explore capabilities of GS as my comfort level grows with the bike and may possibly buy spokes to start and a second set of wheels with cast rims later. Prefer the look of the bike with spokes. Thank you! CS
    I bought a new GS in 2007 with mag wheels because he had one in stock and I liked the look.When I upgraded to a GSA in 09 it obviously came with spokes.With what I would consider very little off road use the front spokes were loose at the 12000 mile checkup and to take the wheel off and true it to perfection would have cost a few bucks and another couple hours wait time so they got it close and it still needs to be done.Unless your going to go off road where you thought you would crack a mag wheel I'd stick with the mags.

  9. #9
    I had a GSA with spoke wheels (1150) and even a beast of a bike weight like that did not seem to exhibit noticeable weave or similar characteristics. As I understand the real strength of the spoke wheels is to absorb deflections better and avoiding damage to wheels, whereas the cast wheels being more rigid would have a tendency to crack if the deflection was herd enough. I opted for cast wheels on this new one since I don't feel that my level of usage is not aggressive enough either on the road or off where I would honestly notice a lot of difference.

  10. #10
    Unfunded content provider tommcgee's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by ppaintguy View Post
    whereas the cast wheels being more rigid would have a tendency to crack if the deflection was herd enough.
    They usually are fairly pliable alloys and can take a big dent that can be pounded out, but yeah, they can crack too.
    Salty Fog Rally 2007, 2009, 2011, 2012, 2014 And DRAT! Missed the last one in 2015!

    -Tom (KA1TOX)

  11. #11
    So I placed the order on a 2014 R 1200 GS...with spokes. I appreciate the discussion on this thread. My main concern was that I might notice a loss of "cornering like it's on rails" type performance with spokes vs cast. In the end I doubt I am good enough to push it hard enough to notice on the street. If so my 1200 GT will serve that need very well. I prefer the look of the bike with spoke wheels and plan on taking some off road training to improve my skills with the 1200GS. I did do an Edelweiss (Alps Touring Centre) trip a couple of years ago on a GS and really enjoyed it. Thanks for the continued input.

  12. #12
    Desert John
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    Cast wheels easier to adjust air pressure, for sure

    This may not jump to the top of your importance list, but threading the air jack through the spokes to adjust tire pressure is eliminated with the cast wheels because the valve is at a 90 degree angle midway up the spoke's leg. Very handy.

    I've had both and will take the '13-'14 GSLC's cast wheels every time.
    '15 BMW R1200 GS LC
    '14 Harley-Davidson FLHTK ? slightly water cooled, of course
    '14 Aprilia Tuono V4
    '14 BMW R1200 RTW

  13. #13
    Quote Originally Posted by 100122 View Post
    This may not jump to the top of your importance list, but threading the air jack through the spokes to adjust tire pressure is eliminated with the cast wheels because the valve is at a 90 degree angle midway up the spoke's leg. Very handy.

    I've had both and will take the '13-'14 GSLC's cast wheels every time.

    I'm with you on this air valve point.
    Tire pressure is critical on a motorcycle. Checking or changing air pressure is a simplified, more efficient procedure with the new cast wheels.

    I also vote cast for cleaning purposes... I've owned a GSA with spokes, the spokers are full of nook and cranny.

    Lastly, I vote cast for appearance. Think they look the best, solid and modern industrial. Spokes add more pieces parts to an already busy lookin' machine.

    I guess spokes are proven to be better in rugged conditions, if you need them, you need them.

    And, to the OP's main question, in normal/reasonable riding I don't believe I could tell any difference in handling between my GSs with spokes or cast wheels. I owned R1200GSs with both. However, my risk tolerance is not very high. Sure I occasionally have some "fun", but I don't often push my bikes to extremes. I like to leave margin for error. Maybe a more aggressive street rider would notice a difference and prefer one or the other. Although, sport bikes nearly all have cast wheels... very light cast, but cast.

    my .02
    Last edited by dmilan; 01-10-2014 at 12:44 PM.

  14. #14
    I had an 1150 gs with spokes,rode on a couple of Nez Perce gs rides,and down thru Ba Ha twice.Only problem was one broken spoke.Have an R1200 gs with cat whells now.On the intersate comin west from Peoria,I hit a lane separation,that cased the front cast wheel to bend and flatten the tire.At 80mph the wheel stayed round till I found an approach to pull off.Tire was flat.My 2014 will have spokes

  15. #15
    Quote Originally Posted by gsmotodad View Post
    I had an 1150 gs with spokes,rode on a couple of Nez Perce gs rides,and down thru Ba Ha twice.Only problem was one broken spoke.Have an R1200 gs with cat whells now.On the intersate comin west from Peoria,I hit a lane separation,that cased the front cast wheel to bend and flatten the tire.At 80mph the wheel stayed round till I found an approach to pull off.Tire was flat.My 2014 will have spokes

    That doesn't mean that a spoke wheel would or would not have bent and flattened a tubeless tire in the same situation.
    You can bend a wire wheel rim too.

    http://www.woodyswheelworks.com/Moto...eelRepair.html

    I don't doubt that off road, spokes are the way to go. Just look at Motocross racing... no cast there.

    But for on road hazards like chuckholes, gnarly debris like angle iron or such,.. I'd guess that if you hit one with either spokes or cast, you pretty much got a problem.

    Just this past Friday, I was at a BMW Dealer shooting the breeze with the owner. He's been at it a long time, Raced off road in his youth.
    I asked him if he can feel the difference when riding a road machine like an R1200GS with spokes or cast.. He said he could not, I'm not nearly as experienced as him, but neither can I.

    He also told me a story of when he and 5 others were out for a ride. In staggered formation, the fella in front swerved directly in front of him. His reaction was one of confusion, but he moved to the right to reestablish the stagger.
    BAM, right into a STUNNINGLY LARGE chuckhole. Blew out the fork seals, don't remember for sure if he said the tire went down or not although I believe he said it did, the alloy rim was not bent a lick. Go figure.

    A few years back I ran across a pieces of angle iron on the freeway. Was riding 2008 K1200GT. Nothing I could do, it was side ways across the road. Kept looking at my tire pressure reading, expecting the worst. Soon as I could I pulled over and checked the rims and tires, all was good.

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